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NPP speaks on election transparency

Npp Abuakwa North Election1 NPP Logo

Mon, 8 Aug 2016 Source: kasapafmonline.com

Ladies and Gentlemen of the press, we have called you here this afternoon to share our views on certain pertinent developments regarding the nation’s preparation for the December 7 presidential and parliamentary elections, which are just four months away, especially against the background of deliberately distorted claims by our main opponents, the National Democratic Congress, that our efforts to ensure free and fair contest are rather to ‘sabotage’ the electoral process.

EXTENSION OF RE-REGISTRATION OF NHIS REGISTRANTS

First of all, we are happy about the Electoral Commission’s positive response to the many calls and petitions for an extension of the period for re-registration of those whose names were deleted from the voters register on the orders of the Supreme Court, regarding the use of NHIS cards to register as a voter in 2012.

We want to take this opportunity to encourage all eligible Ghanaians who were affected but could not re-register in the just-ended exercise to take advantage of the extension to do so in order to have the opportunity to exercise their franchise in the upcoming elections. All affected qualified Ghanaians should please make time to go to their respective districts and re-register. The exercise begins on Friday, August 5 and ends on Friday, August 12.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the press, as a law-abiding party, we find it very preposterous the suggestion from the NDC that the Ghanaian citizens who took the issue of NHIS registrants to court did so with wrong motives, and so must be blamed for any inconvenience created for the affected persons. It is clear that those making such claims are people who are not prepared to uphold the Constitution of our dear country, as we are all enjoined to do.

We accordingly want to commend Abu Ramadan and Evans Nimako, together with their team of lawyers, for relentlessly pursuing the case to the logical conclusion, as part of their duties as good citizens of the country.

MAINTANING DECEMBER 7 AS DAY FOR 2016 ELECTIONS

Now, it is clear all discerning Ghanaians are beginning to see the wisdom in the decision by Parliament to maintain December 7 as the day for this year’s elections. Those who voted against November 7 cited one important reason, the apparent lack of readiness of the EC to hold credible polls on that date. We are convinced that if the period for the preparations for this year’s election had been reduced by one month, it would have been impossible for the EC to extend this re-registration exercise.

Also, with the decision to maintain the December 7 date, qualified Ghanaians who have never registered before now have the opportunity, under the window offered by the Continuous Registration, which takes place from August 19 to 26, to have their names on the voters register. This will enable them to be part of the decision making process that will lead to the election of a president and Members of Parliament they want to lead them. We welcome all such prospective voters and encourage them to take the right decisions that will be in the best interest of the country when they go to the polls.

We, therefore, find it extremely disingenuous for the NDC, led by its General Secretary, to suggest that the prudent decision taken by Parliament to maintain the date constitutes a ‘sabotage’ of a collective decision by the NPP Minority.

We as a party don’t deny the fact that we were part of those who proposed and supported the November 7 date for our elections, for all the associated good reasons of ensuring effective transition, among others, just as we had always been the true champions of effective electoral reforms since the return to multiparty democracy in 1992.

But, ladies and gentlemen from the press, for those accusing our MPs of ‘sabotage’, have you bordered to find out from them why the government and the EC delayed for until a few months to the 2016 polls before going to Parliament to seek approval for the change from December 7 to November 7, if they were indeed committed to the change in date?

ELECTRONIC TRANSMISSION OF RESULTS

Now, it is very important that we correct a certain erroneous impression being created and disingenuously amplified by the NDC about our position regarding the issue of electronic transmission of results of the upcoming December 7 general elections.

We do not deny the fact that all stakeholders agreed on the need to introduce some kind of electronic system into the transmission of results of the upcoming elections. It must be noted that previously, the Returning Officer for the presidential election, the chairperson of the EC, had merely relied on faxed copies of the constituency summary sheet, to add up and declare the winner of the contest. We found this no longer acceptable. In fact, as rightly acknowledged by the NDC General Secretary, that innovative idea was mooted by the NPP, just as we are credited for mooting several new, innovative ideas not only to improve our electoral system, but also to enhance the socio-economic wellbeing of our people, as evidenced in the introduction of NHIS, Capitation Grant, Free Maternal Care, discovery of oil, among others.

It is, however, important to put on record that on the issue of electronic transmission of results, what the EC is seeking to do now is a radical departure from what was agreed upon based on consensus.

This was indeed acknowledged by the EC itself in its statement reacting to the concerns raised by our Campaign Manager, as the commission rightly captured what was agreed upon as follows: “It is recommended that hand-held scanners should be used to scan constituency collation forms that contain the polling station results and sent electronically and directly to the National Collation Centre. The hard copies would be sent physically to the Head Office of the EC.”

This means that what we proposed as a departure from the past, was for the certified collation sheet, containing all the results from the polling station to be scanned and e-transmitted but to be later on authenticated by a hard copy being sent to the National Collation Centre.

What the EC plans to do now, ie electronic transmission of the results from the polling stations, is radically different from what was proposed by the Electoral Reforms Committee and agreed upon with the political parties and other stakeholders and the EC.

Indeed, the original EC’s request of Expression of Interest for procurement of ERTS stated that the exercise was for “direct capture of polling stations results at about 29,000 polling stations.”

Portions of Expression of Interest reads: “The Electoral Commission of Ghana intends to use ICT to run in parallel with its existing system of transmitting election results.

“Accordingly, the Commission invites eligible firms to express their interest in the provision of the following services:

Supply, installation and support appropriate ICT products and logistics for direct capture polling station election results at about 29,000 polling stations;

Supply, installation and support appropriate ICT products and logistics for real time direct transmission of presidential and parliamentary polling station election results to Constituency Collation Centres.”

Clearly, the EC, on its own, without consulting IPAC, has gone ahead to extend e-transmission to all 29,000 polling stations. It would have been irresponsible on our part not to raise concern over this departure. This, in no way, should give any discerning person any grounds to make claims that the NPP “has gained notoriety” for turning round to oppose decisions collectively taken by all stakeholders. If the NDC was part of this decision we were not invited to that discussion.

We believe what needs to be done is for all interested parties, especially the EC, to stick to collective decisions and implement them in the manner agreed upon. And if it becomes necessary for modifications to be made, the EC must be honest, professional and transparent enough to inform stakeholders. This is what transparency, fairness and inclusivity are all about as far as the electoral process is concerned.

And this becomes very important to us now in view of the experiences of 2012, where STL admitted it was contracted to electronically transmit results as backup, but the EC denied ever contracting STL to transmit results of the elections, only for the Minister for Interior, Prosper Bani, to claim over three years after that STL was indeed contracted for that exercise without our know. We cannot afford revisiting mistrust in 2016.

WE WON’T COMPROMISE ON CREDIBLE ELECTORAL PROCESS

We in this regard find it laughable the call on us by the NDC to let our “Yes be yes” and “No be no” as far as decisions taken in respect of the electoral process are concerned.

We have always been consistent in our determination in ensuring that the nation always goes through a transparent and fair electoral process that delivers credible elections, whose outcomes are acceptable by all interested parties. This is a determination that will never be compromised for consideration, and more so we seek to ensure that the true will of suffering Ghanaians, who are determined to see a change in government, is not compromised through any dubious means.

We will not allow 2016 elections to be rigged!

It is important to bring to the fore that as we gradually inch towards the December 7 presidential and parliamentary elections, we are being carefully guided by the events of the 2012 elections, as they were showcased to the shock of discerning Ghanaians during the Presidential Election Petition trial as the Supreme Court.

We are particularly being guided by the declaration by the Supreme Court that once election results are declared at the polling station, under any circumstances, there is practically nothing that can be done about it. It must therefore be the case that the results declared at the polling station are the same results collated at the constituency level and sent to the National Collation Centre to declare the next president-elect. That is why any radical introduction of technology must be done with utmost integrity and transparency to command the confidence of a sceptical public. We will continue to insist on fairness and transparency because we care deeply about Ghana’s democracy, peace and stability.

If our main opponent that has curiously decided to take the same position as the EC on any issue since 2009 wants to disingenuously interpret that to mean ‘a sabotage’ of the electoral process, or our “Yes not being Yes” and our “No not being No”, then that is their own business. We do not want the vote of any Ghanaian to be tampered with. This election is, first and foremost, a referendum on the 8 years of the NDC and what President John Mahama has done with his mandate since 2012. We want every NO vote against another 4 years of this Mahama Wahala to be a NO vote.

Finally, we want to reassure the sufferings masses that the NPP will do all it can to ensure that the 2016 elections shall not be rigged. We will urge them to play their part by voting massively for change and support all our efforts for free and fair contests and vigilance at every stage of the process. Change is coming and it must come!

Thank you.

Source: kasapafmonline.com
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